ESSENTIALS

06

A 10-Inch Chef's Knife

A man, whether he’s an accomplished gourmand or just the guy who likes to cut the roast on holidays, needs cutlery that will last.
Illustration: Mickey Duzyj

10" of pure driven steel

Generally, a man’s transformation from slave of the microwave to king of the cassoulet follows the same upward arc as his taste in music, clothing, and women. And no matter where you find yourself on said trajectory, you need a good knife. Take it from Norman Weinstein, cutlery demigod and author of Mastering Knife Skills: “If you get only one knife,” he says, “get a chef’s knife.” And while eight-inch versions are more common, Weinstein recommends the full 10-incher. As he says, “in every 10” chef’s knife there lives an 8” chef’s knife.” Hard to quibble with that math.

There’s a reason only one knife gets the moniker “chef.” It’s a master of versatility. The style is distinguished from its civilian cousins in part by the ample knuckle clearance of the handle and the gentle overall curve of the blade—called the camber—which make it easier to chop with a consistent, rocking motion (hacking is best left to butchers). Another key factor is heft. The heavier it is, the less work you have to do. When buying a chef’s knife, also look for balance. To test, place the bolster of the knife (the area between the handle and the blade) on your middle and index fingers—it should perch there perfectly. Also, make sure your knife is forged—not stamped—from steel: a forged blade is stronger, and will keep its edge better than a stamped one ever can. As your mother probably told you, a sharp blade is much safer than a blunt one, unless you’re the kind of guy who can’t cut a tomato without slicing himself. If that’s you, save the knife for breaking down take-out pizza boxes, and be happy it makes you’re kitchen look convincing.

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  1. Anthony says:

    The heaviness thing is a matter of personal taste. You may have to do less work pushing down, but you have to do more work to lift the knife, and it’s more difficult to make precise cuts with a heavy knife.

    Some knife makers (Global, in particular) are making high quality “stamped” knives, so stamped vs forged is not as clear-cut as it used to be.

    Here’s another great source of info about kitchen knives: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?/topic/26036-knife-maintenance-and-sharpening/

  2. Lonny says:

    Wusthof Rules…

  3. Rhodale says:

    Knives are one thing where tradition doesn’t mean a whole lot anymore. Most people that professionally cook for a living, including me, have long since abandoned the heavier German forged knives (read: Wusthof and Henkels) and replaced them with lighter, thinner Japanese knives, forged or stamped. A quality Japanese stamped knife performs better than a heavy German forged knife like the UX10, Misono’s top of the line knife series, which is stamped. And it doesn’t take more work to use a lighter, thinner blade. Because quality Japanese knives are made with harder steel, they take and hold a keener edge longer. Price isn’t a problem either. You don’t have to get a Nenox S1 for $500. Tojiro knives are under $100.

    Sorry, but tradition is one thing you can’t stick to with kitchen cutlery, unlike a good suit. Hell, even Anthony Bourdain says it in his book that he uses Global knives.

  4. Alex says:

    What about ceramic blades? Any good?

  5. Patrick says:

    Jesus, learn to some grammar ‘writer.’ When did the internet give licenses for people to skip second grade?

    Ceramic knives chip much easier than steel.

  6. ultrasound tech says:

    thank you for making this article sweetheart it was a fun read

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